This is a roundup of news that I have come across during the day. First-ever space hotel slated to be operational by 2027, Airbnb ends affiliate program, Emirates introduces $55 option to book empty seat, Walmart drops $35 order minimum, most popular national parks, and top 10 beaches in the US.
Work is due to start on the world’s first ‘space hotel’ in low Earth orbit in 2025 – and it will come equipped with restaurants, a cinema, spa and rooms for 400 people. Developed by the Orbital Assembly Corporation (OAC), the Voyager Station could be operational as early as 2027, with the infrastructure built in orbit around the Earth. The space station will be a large circle and rotate to generate artificial gravity that will be set at a similar level to the gravity found on the surface of the Moon.
Airbnb recently informed travel bloggers that it will shut down its affiliate program at the end of March. Airbnb launched the associates program in May 2020. The program pays travel bloggers and influencers a percentage of guest and host fees for Airbnb stays and experiences they recommend and link to on their websites and social media profiles.
For those who don’t want to leave their airplane seating space to chance, Emirates is now offering economy class passengers the ability to book adjacent empty seats for additional social distancing (or simply leg room) during the pandemic. All passengers with a confirmed economy class booking will be able to purchase up to three empty adjoining seats before boarding their flights.
Walmart is dropping its $35 minimum order requirement to qualify for its Express two-hour delivery service, the retailer announced on Monday. The move puts Walmart’s e-commerce platform on better footing to compete with Amazon Prime, which has offered customers same-day delivery for certain items in specific markets through its Prime Now service since 2016.
COVID-19 closures caused National Park Service visitation to drop by 28% in 2020, making for the lowest number of visits since 1980, the NPS revealed in its Annual Visitation Highlights report Friday. The park service welcomed more than 237 million visitors last year, compared with 327.5 million in 2019.
Those lower numbers were to be expected, given that more than 60 of the NPS’ 423 sites were closed for two months or more during the COVID-19 pandemic. The park service noted that nearly a year into the pandemic, a few historic and cultural parks remain closed.
The travel planning and review website made its determination based on user responses left on Tripadvisor.com in the last 12 months, according to a press release issued Tuesday.
In Tripadvisor’s release, 10 U.S. beaches were highlighted as standouts for 2021. Five of which were in Hawaii and two were in Florida. Meanwhile, the West Coast secured two spots in the top 10 and the East Coast secured one.